Fired Syneos Health Workers: Company Ignored Tennessee Vaccination Law

By Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas:
February 5, 2022Updated: February 7, 2022

While Syneos Health fired employees who refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19, it allowed Florida residents to keep working. Presumably, the company was following Florida’s law, enacted in November, that prohibits private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines.

Under Florida’s law, businesses with 99 or fewer employees face a fine of $10,000 per employee violation, while larger businesses must pay $50,000 per violation. But Tennessee employees were fired despite a similar state law, also passed in November.

Tennessee’s law says a private business, governmental entity, or school cannot compel a person to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason. No fine is associated with the Tennessee law.

“Essentially, it gives them the right to sue for either threatened—or loss of—employment and they can recover, in addition to compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees as well. So it has teeth in it,” Larry Crain, a Brentwood, Tennessee, constitutional lawyer representing a Syneos employee, told The Epoch Times. “An outfit as big as Syneos Health has got to have general counsel that is aware of this statute, just as they would be in Florida. But in case they’re not, it certainly is our intention to make them aware of it.”

Syneos Health, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, is a global pharmaceutical outsourcing company with some 28,000 employees in more than 110 countries. It supplements the sales and management teams of major pharmaceutical companies with additional employees. For an unknown number of employees, Jan. 31, 2021, was their last day.

Crain represents Randy Parker, 63, who managed Syneos sales representatives. Parker has an extensive history in virology and has worked in pharmaceuticals for 34 years, the last nine at Syneos. For the past seven years, he has been working from home, so when the vaccine mandate first came out, he assumed it didn’t apply to him, until a manager told him to complete his vaccination paperwork.

“Our industry is driven by clinical studies, by efficacy, safety data, and multi-level studies with thousands of patients involved, to roll out a safe product,” Parker told The Epoch Times. “We didn’t see that with these vaccines. They passed it under emergency use. They forewent all the different parameters that you have to hit, in order to launch a product safely. I wasn’t satisfied these were safe products.”

Terri Marsh, 66, a clinical sales specialist, has worked in pharmaceuticals for 22 years and for Syneos for two years. She wasn’t thinking about retirement. As the No. 2 salesperson in the company, she says she was expecting to receive incentives she earned, including a bonus in March and a possible trip to Rome. She says being terminated cost her about $30,000 in bonuses.

“I was planning on reaping those benefits, and it’s devastating. I have never been fired for anything in my life,” Marsh told The Epoch Times.

Yet, she is comfortable with her decision not to get the shots.

“We are trained constantly that we cannot promote any product unless it [has a] package insert. And if you look at all these vaccines, they do not have a package insert. There’s no ability to evaluate the risk and benefit of the product based on what’s it going to offer you, and the risks associated,” Marsh said. “These vaccines didn’t even have animal studies, let alone long-term human studies. I just felt I could not make a reasonable risk/benefit decision. In time, the efficacy came into question. Because, for a while, they said if you get this shot you can’t get COVID.

“Well, that has turned out to be false. And then, if you get the shot, you can’t transmit it. That has also turned out to be false, so the house of cards is falling. I have less and less confidence that product is either safe or effective.”

The two Tennessee residents asked for religious exemptions. But on Dec. 9, they learned that Syneos wasn’t recognizing exemptions. They had until Jan. 14 to get the shots or face termination.

Marsh sent a letter to Syneos alerting them of the Tennessee law.

“We understand that this is a challenging time,” a Syneos employee relations coordinator responded. “Based on your job duties and customer requirements, we are unable to deviate from the timeline described in your working notice letter.” The letter urged her to let the company know if she got vaccinated.

Parker says the pandemic should have run its course a year ago.

“The pandemic is pretty much dying out, and they are still trying to prolong it. These mandates and vaccinations are part of that. For whatever reason, they’re trying to prolong it, and it’s just wrong,” Parker said. “Most pandemics last 18 months. This thing should have been over about a year ago.”

Marsh said the treatment of the unvaccinated is un-American.

“I feel there’s some kind of agenda here that is marginalizing people who think for themselves, and who have different opinions than the herd. I don’t think America is a place where that was tolerated in the past. We always celebrated free thinkers and accepted people who thought differently than we did. But now we’re being marginalized and fired, for our sincerely held beliefs, and I think it’s the wrong direction. I think it’s unamerican.”